This weekend I took part in an intensive weekend photography workshop at Vancouver Photo Workshops (VPW). Key word – Intensive. Our classes were Saturday and Sunday from 10am-5pm with an hour break for lunch, and not a moment was spared to pack our brains full of photography knowledge.
I signed up for the course with my friend Jerra. She received a DSLR camera as a wedding gift from her husband, and was wanting to really learn how to use it, rather than just defaulting to shoot in Auto all of the time. (Even though there is nothing wrong with that! They do make Auto for a reason.)
I have been attempting to shoot with a DSLR for a couple of years now, and recently upgraded from a Pentax K100D to a Nikon D90, but I still didn’t feel completely comfortable behind my camera. I wanted to know the ins-and-outs of my Nikon, be able to confidently shoot in manual mode, or to choose whichever exposure priority necessary, whenever my little heart (or eye) desires to.
I was concerned that the workshop might be a bit too basic for me, that I would be itching to move ahead into the more complex stuff, but I found myself loving every second of it. Our instructor, Aura McKay, was one of the most enthusiastic people I have ever met. It’s obvious that she truly loves what she does for a living, and she is able to effortlessly captivate an entire room full of eager newbie photographers. At one point, on the second day of the workshop, when speaking to us about creative composition, I almost wanted to stand up and clap at the end of her rant. Her attitude about photography is absolutely infectious.
We covered the basics of exposure – aperture, shutter speed and ISO, and choosing the correct, or creating a custom, white balance. We did an exposure workshop in the studio, and worked on all of these things – getting our whites white, and our blacks black. We took so many shots of these set-ups that I am quite happy to never have to look at them again! But all in all, it was great practice.
Aura talked about depth of field, basic composition theory, different lenses and when and why we use them, and lighting! We did a depth of field exercise in the studio again, then right before lunch we took off for a photowalk, to try and use all of the things we had learned – white balance, depth of field, composition – yay! My photos from the walk are not all that exciting, so I’ll spare you.
After lunch, we basically spent three whole hours shooting models in the studio in different settings under different lighting. We even shot one of the models outside. At the end of it, I think my brain and my creativity were completely tapped, but I was pretty happy with some of my shots from the afternoon session.
The rest of my photos from the session can be seen on Flickr.
Needless to say, I will happily enroll in another VPW class, after a little more tinkering and practice behind the lens. As Aura quoted many times during our workshop: “If you want to be a photographer, take a picture. If you want to be a better photographer, take another picture.” And so on and so forth. Now, excuse me… but I have to go take some pictures.